Newly elected President of the Hellenic Congress of America Dr. Demetris Markouizos cuts the cake at the dinner dance at Mythos Restaurant in Bayside on March 18. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
BAYSIDE, NY – The Hellenic Congress of America hosted its dinner dance at Mythos Restaurant in Bayside on March 18 after the successful conclusion of its first convention, held at the Arcadian House ‘Geros tou Morea’ in Long Island City earlier in the day.
Members of the Hellenic Congress, family and friends attended the dinner dance which also celebrated and honored two important figures in the organization, founding President Nick Apostolopoulos and the Hon. Theodore Vassilakis, former New York State Administrative Law Judge. Apostolopoulos was presented with the Hellenic Leadership Award and Vassilakis with the Themis Award for Hellenic Legal Excellence.
Hellenic Congress 2nd Vice President Nicholas Tavantzis gave the welcoming remarks, thanking everyone for attending and for their continuing support of the organization. He then introduced Fr. Christopher Constantinides, the presiding priest of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Paul in Hempstead, NY, to give the opening prayer. Following the prayer, Fr. Constantinides shared his best wishes for the evening and for the Hellenic Congress, noting that His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros could not attend the event, but “extends his well wishes to the honorees and to your organization for continued success.”
Demetris Filios, journalist for Cosmos FM and General Secretary of the Hellenic Congress, then shared his greetings, noting the election of the new president, Dr. Demetrios Markouizos, and called for a warm round of applause thanking outgoing President Apostolopoulos for all his efforts and his contributions to the organization. Newly elected General Secretary of the Hellenic Congress, journalist and sociologist (PhD) Despina Afentouli also shared her greetings.
Apostolopoulos then wished all the best to the newly elected president, noting that he is certain that Dr. Markouizos and the newly elected board members will lead the organization to a bright future and even greater success. Apostolopoulos thanked everyone from the bottom of his heart for the Hellenic Leadership Award adding that “I believe this award is a recognition of my contributions but belongs to the entire team for the work we did all together.”
He also thanked all those who made the convention a success, the board members, his colleagues, who each gave their best self all these years, mentioning by name Kostas (Gus) Lambropoulos, Dr. George Melikokis, Christos Vournas- former president of the Pan-Arcadian Federation of America ‘Geros tou Morea’, Foti Gerasopoulos, Demosthenis Triantafillou, convention organizing committee chair Theodora Abazis, Maria Avgoulas, legal counsel Maria Markou, Evaggelia Sarafoglou, Demetris Filios, Nicholas Tavantzis, Dr. Markouizos, and Theodore Vassilakis.
Apostolopoulos also thanked the great organizations that helped the Hellenic Congress in its efforts for a better future for Hellenism in America, the historic Pan Arcadian Federation of America ‘Geros Tou Morea’ chapter, the Society of Kastorians Omonoia NY, the Evrytanian Association of America Karpenisi, and the Hellenic Women’s Alliance.
Afentouli then introduced Dr. Markouizos who shared his greetings, thanking everyone “for the honor that’s been bestowed upon me.”
“I will continue this effort and this work,” he said. “I have big shoes to fill but I have a great team around me which you will see very soon… our mission is sacred, we are involved in educational, philanthropic, and progressive educational and cultural events.” Dr. Markouizos continued: “It’s all about the Hellenic ideals that we want to promote. We have a lot of problems to solve… here in America as well as in Greece, it’s going to be a big test, but the will is there and there’s a way, that’s my motto, we’re going to be united, because we’re going to remove the ‘I’ and replace it with a ‘we’. We as a team will stick together but we need your support.”
He mentioned the key to his success was finding a good team and noted that his daughter is in Europe right now and always reminds him of the youth.
“That’s one of the projects I’m going to work on, and I need a good team to focus on the youth and the next generation of this society, the future of all of our world,” Dr. Markouizos said, adding that “we have big aims and we will achieve them.”
The event continued with the award presentation to Theodore Vassilakis who thanked everyone for the honor and noted how he was introduced to the organization and decided to join because he believes that the Hellenic Congress of America has the potential to be among the top four or five organizations in America. He thanked Maria Markou and Gus Lambropoulos and also sees that with the new president and the board, which he is now a member of, will make the organization’s plans reality.
Among those present were Consul of Greece in New York Dimitris Papageorgiou who in his remarks encouraged the organization in its efforts, Consulate General of Greece in New York Department of Economic and Commercial Affairs Head Nikolaos Thomopoulos, and Public Diplomacy Office Head Mary Vaxevanidou.
The event drew together like-minded community members, eager to help achieve the mission of the Hellenic Congress “to unite, inspire and motivate Hellenes and Philhellenes in the commitment of developing progressive, educational, cultural, and philanthropic projects in the U.S. and worldwide.”
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